After averaging less than twenty wins a season since the dismantling of the dynasty in 1998, the Chicago Bulls amazingly got to the second round of the play-offs in 2005. Even after a pathetic 1-9 start. That's worth something to somebody don't you think? Like Scott Skiles, for instance, their coach, the first one who proved he could actually motivate the Bulls, or any NBA team for that matter, since Phil Jackson took his zen tech to LA.
But negotiations for Skiles' new contract have ended in a stalemate. Actually they've ended in acrimony and fingerpointing. This is more than a one hundred dollar misunderstanding. It's turning into a war. His agent is blaming the stingy Bulls. The Bulls are acting like they can't believe someone would want to be paid so much. Call it the Reinsdorf factor.
We've all seen the offer. There's plenty of dough there. I blame Skiles' pigheaded, unimaginative rep for the impasse. Whine whine whine. Fourteen mil guaranteed over three years wasn't enough to satisfy the greedy bastard. Hey, your client hasn't won anything yet. Put some incentive clauses in there. Make winning worth something. This deal can be done. Although, this may just be blackmail since Detroit may be needing someone soon. But Detroit is a veteran team who don't listen to anyone but themselves. And the Bulls are young and impressionable.
Sure, Skiles did everything anybody asked for, create NBA players out of raw meat, bring order to disorder, mold a team out of thin air. He didn't win the championship but nobody was even thinking about that until, holy cow, they made the play offs.
Skiles didn't win coach of the year, either, although he could have. Oh, hell, he should have. The amazing new kid, Ben "Air" Gordon, didn't win rookie of the year, although he definitely should have. Sure, his old UConn teammate and good friend, Emeka Okefor, was in double figures all season long. But for a losing team. Not too hard to look good when you're the only go to guy. And you play on an eastern team. Ooops. Have I implied there might be east coast media voting bias? Why yes, I have. Convince me otherwise.
Meanwhile, Gordon singlehandedly won games time after time with his double digit fourth quarter points and last second heroics throughout the season. Without him the Bulls don't go to the playoffs. With him they do. If that's not the rookie of the year, nothing is.
By way of compensation, Gordon is the first rookie ever to win the sixth man award. He was also one of two Bulls' rookies named to the all-rookie team, a first for any franchise. Okay, Skiles was instrumental in creating the envronment where they fluorished.
This is a good young team that can get better next year. But now their coach, who still as a great future, and his agent, who is as manipulative as a hooker with a four hundred dollar habit, are playing hardball in the court of public opinion. And in my opinion, as a Bulls' fan, it just stinks.
UPDATE: Around the time I was writing this, Skiles was meeting directly with Bulls' owner Jerry Reinsdorf, without his agent to gum things up. They agreed on $18 million. Don't know the guarantee. Don't know how many years. But it's done.
Apparently, it took all of fifteen minutes.